NATIONAL

Notice to Centre on speedy trial of cases against politicians

NEW DELHI, NOV. 29. The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking speedy trial of criminal cases pending in various courts against politicians, bureaucrats and other influential persons.

A Bench of the Chief Justice, R.C. Lahoti, and Justice G.P. Mathur sought the Centre's response on the PIL filed by Virender Kumar Ohri. Citing the reappointment of the Jharkhand Mukthi Morcha chief, Shibu Soren, who faced criminal cases, as Union Coal Minister, the petitioner alleged that even non-appearance of the accused was being used as a justification for withdrawing criminal cases against them.

The petitioner submitted that it appeared that the wheel of the criminal justice system did not move at all and every strategy was being adopted to delay and frustrate the trial in such cases. The State machinery was also being used to seek withdrawal of charges on absurd grounds. He gave the names of over 200 politicians against whom criminal cases were pending for a long time.

`Collapse of system'

Counsel for the petitioner, Prashant Bhushan, said the case against Mr. Soren was pending for a long time and there was a complete collapse of the criminal justice system in the country, particularly in Jharkhand, as far as cases against VVIPs were concerned.

While seeking expeditious trial against Mr. Soren, he said such directions given by the Supreme Court would help in ensuring that the right to life of the people was not violated and they could live in a criminal-free society without fear and intimidation. The petitioner sought a direction to all States to ensure that the trial was taken up and completed expeditiously under the supervision of the respective High Courts.

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